The Local Germany (4 November 2015)
As stars and fans of The Hunger Games series flock to Berlin for the European premiere of its finale on Wednesday, The Local looks at what the city brought to the film – and how exactly Berlin became Panem.
Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games franchise has taken audiences by storm.
With a novel trilogy having sold 87 million copies worldwide, and a film franchise already making over €900 million at the box office, expectations are high for the release of the story’s epic finale Mockingbird: Part 2 this month.
But before then comes the ritual of the film’s world premiere – set to take place on Wednesday evening in Berlin.
Hosted at Berlin’s futuristic Sony Centre in Potsdamer Platz, the premiere’s star-studded guest-list has already attracted hundreds of fans – many of whom camped out overnight in aluminium heat blankets to catch a glimpse of Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen) and the film’s other stars.
It was no accident that the world premiere came to Berlin: with parts of the Hunger Games finale filmed in the city, Berlin’s “dark architecture” was the backdrop for much of the dystopian epic.
From Nazi airports to techno clubs
In May and June 2014, the Mockingjay cast and crew descended on Berlin.
“The city has a unique monumentalism in its architecture,” said director Francis Lawrence.
“Some of the dark architecture you find in the city suits the movie perfectly,” he told the Berliner Morgenpost.
So where could you go in Berlin to get a first-hand experience of Panem?
Das Kraftwerk, Berlin Mitte – Beetee’s weapons lab, District 13
Das Kraftwerk seemed an ideal location for a weapons lab. Photo: DPA
Built in the 1960s, this former power station supplied Berlin Mitte with energy until 1997.
Now, it’s more of a recreational haunt – housing Berlin’s famous techno club Tresor, the building also plays host to various concerts, events and exhibitions.
But it was also the perfect location for Beetee’s weapons training facility, director Francis Lawrence told MTV.
“The size and scope of this place you can’t replicate, so we wanted to find as real an environment as possible,” Lawrence explained.
“It was actually quite difficult to find environments that felt like they were underground.”
Director Francis Lawrence inside Das Kraftwerk. Photo: DPA
Berlin Tempelhof Airport – District 2
Music fans gathered at Tempelhof in early September for Germany’s first Lollapalooza festival. Photo: DPA
Built in 1927 and reconstructed by the Nazis in the 1930s, Tempelhof played a key role in the Allied Forces’ famed 1948/9 Berlin Airlift, allowing over 2.3 million tonnes of food and fuel to be delivered into West Berlin after the Soviet Union blocked land routes.
After closing in 2008, it became a popular venue for festivals and public events – and in September, Berlin’s iconic former airport made headlines after becoming a mass refugee shelter.
But between its roles in the German cold war and the current refugee crisis, Tempelhof also found time to transform into Panem for a short while.
The team spent 12 days filming here on the grounds of one of the world’s largest buildings.
Lawrence and the team spent 12 days filming at Tempelhof. Photo: DPA
Babelsberg Film Studio
The oldest large-scale film studio in the world, Babelsberg has been producing films just outside Berlin since 1912.
In April 2014, a Berlin casting agency sent out a call for around 1,000 extras to feature in scenes filmed at the studio.
The crew was on the lookout for those with African, Asian, Southern European, Turkish or Afro-American appearances.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Rüdersdorf – District 8
Ok, it’s not strictly in Berlin – but for those willing to venture a little further afield, Rüdersdorf is another place to catch a glimpse of Katniss Everdeen’s world.
A municipality in Brandenburg, Rüdersdorf is the location of a former cement factory – which the Mockingjay cast and crew used during filming of scenes set in Panem’s District 8.
Panem arrives in Berlin
Cast and crew began arriving in Berlin in the week before the premiere.
Actor Liam Hemsworth (Gale Hawthorne in the series) posted a photo in the city on Tuesday:
Meanwhile Willow Shields – who play Katniss’s younger sister Primrose Everdeen – tweeted her arrival on October 31st:
Wednesday’s premiere at Cinestar Potdamer Platz is set to begin at 7:30pm.